Hold It All

Month: November, 2013


An awed interviewer once exclaimed
To the jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker,
“You do amazing things on the saxophone, Mr. Parker.”

The musician replied,
“I don’t know about amazing—
I practiced for fifteen hours a day for a few years.”

–Adapted from and quoted in  Michael Dirda, Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life

Share the Wealth: Envisioning Intentional Communities

We, Penny Smith and Tony Albrecht, recently visited a number of intentional communities, which provides the jumping-off point for this week’s Share the Wealth. We will share our pictures, stories, and takeaways from six different communities of people trying to live in harmony with each other and the Earth. Some of the questions we will wrangle:

  • What does it look like to provide your own food and shelter and why does it even matter?
  • What is an intentional community?
  • Hippies?
  • Could most of today’s problems be the result of isolation and lack of real community?
  • Can we really do no harm to other people or creatures in the modern world?
  • Is it possible to live without electricity and not immediately descend into an abyss of crippling boredom?
  • I’m supposed to poop in what hole? Read the rest of this entry »

Ripples of Influence

All living beings are members one of another so that a person’s every act has a beneficial or harmful influence on the whole world. We cannot see this, near-sighted as we are. The influence of a single act of an individual on the world may be negligible. But that influence is there all the same, and an awareness of this truth should make us realize our responsibility.

— M. K. Gandhi
Vows and Observances

Sleepless (Life under Occupation/12)

Dear Carla,

It’s 5 a.m. and I’ve been up 24 hours
We visited a family yesterday

The first two hours
She beheld her brother

Who was home after two years in prison:
“How much weight you’ve lost!”

I still can’t shake off
The sound of the sister’s sobs


–from Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine

Reflections on “The Book of Mev” from Cochabamba by Kate Raymond

Dear Mark,

I return to the United States on December 15th and will spend the holidays with my family in Dallas. Then from the 26th through the beginning of January we will be in Colorado to ski, drink hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps, read by the fire, and spend quality time with some of our favorite people – including Miss Kelley Schwartz! After that I have the opportunity to travel to Turks and Caicos with Endel’s family. I feel beyond blessed! Which I guess leads me to your question about if and how I may have related to Mev.

I was so surprised to receive that question from you! Because in all honesty, YES, there were many times throughout the book when I would say out loud “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe how similar we are!” or “Wow, she felt the same way that I feel sometimes!” But I don’t know if I would have shared that with you without a prompt because in no way do I feel I can truly compare myself with such a phenomenal woman, and the love of your life! Read the rest of this entry »

You, Walt, and I (And Most Everybody Else We Know)


Here’s section 51 of Song of Myself, which you’ve heard me and others quote scores of times, and even today as we discussed The Brothers Karamazov.

And you might also enjoy June Jordan’s essay, For the Sake of People’s Poetry.


The past and present wilt—I have fill’d them, emptied them,
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.

Listener up there! what have you to confide to me?
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.)

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab.

Who has done his day’s work? who will soonest be through with his supper?
Who wishes to walk with me?

Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late?

Share with Wealth with Hedy Epstein: Remembering Is Not Enough

Our next Share the Wealth will be with Hedy Epstein, a long-time activist in Saint Louis and beyond.

Hedy will share stories about growing up in Germany, which she left on a Kindertransport to England in 1939 not long after Kristallnacht. She will talk about some of what she learned from her beloved parents, who were killed at Auschwitz.

She will also speak about her commitment to the people of Palestine and her participation in Women in Black, the International Solidarity Movement, the Gaza Freedom March, the Freedom Flotilla, and the Saint Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee.

Hedy will be open to our questions about her life of remembrance and activism in solidarity with people who have been marginalized and oppressed.

Join us!
Sunday 17 November
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Hedy begins sharing at 6:45.
At the home of Fatima Rhodes
4406 A Laclede Avenue
Central West End


“I Know You Can Read My Mind”

You can cry on my shoulder anytime, no questions asked

You can use me to train for the Guinness Book of World Records for Lingering

You can take me for a Lou Reed ride in your badass mobile

You can leave inscrutably soft messages on my voice mail anytime you catch yourself feeling lonely, bereft, existentially woebegone

You can be a beautiful mess around me anytime between the hours of 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.

You can shriek, stomp, and stammer, but there you’ve got some competition

You can do yourself a favor and watch Kuch Kuch Hota Hoi three times within two weeks

You can keep sending notes, letters, scribbles, post-its, lists, a jewel jam of genres

You can be incomplete, strangely stuck, untogether, a fumbling work-in-progress, just like about 5 billion others of our species

You can seek refuge amid my persiflage, Crème Brûlée, and recitations of Paul Éluard

You can throw away that mask that flashes: “I’ve Got It All Figured Out”

You can relax when you arrive back home: In the precious present moment

What I Wrote the Night before You Spoke (Gratitude Journal/8)

Suhad,  I thank you even before you speak tomorrow because
I know you’ll be passionate
I know you’ll tell your truths
I know you will be fierce and charming
I know you will honor your family and loved ones
I know you will put people at their ease and make them squirm in their seats Read the rest of this entry »